In Brief
A new Google patent featuring a rather innovative use of adhesive technology could make self-driving cars safer for pedestrians who are getting run over.

Adhesive Technology

The key to making self-driving cars even safer? Combining top of the line autonomous driving technology with advanced…adhesive technology? Yes, it is totally as disturbing as it sounds.

A ‘sticky’ layer coating the front of self-driving cars could possibly lower the damage it would cause in the event that a pedestrian is hit and gets flung onto other cars or objects.

According to the description of the patent, which was just granted to Google this week, “the adhesive coating on the front portion of the vehicle may be activated on contact and will be able to adhere to the pedestrian nearly instantaneously.

This instantaneous, or nearly-instantaneous, action may help to constrain the movement of the pedestrian, who may be carried on the front end of the vehicle until the driver of the vehicle (or the vehicle itself, in the case of an autonomous vehicle) reacts to the incident and applies the brakes.

The patent is outlined in the (slightly horrifying) images below.

Image Credit: U.S. Patent Office

 

Saving Lives

The technology is designed with self-driving cars in mind, but it can be applied to any vehicle.

Despite car companies today offering safety features designed to protect pedestrians—such as Citroen and Jaguar’s device that raises the car’s hood upon impact to provide cushion for impact between the surface and the engine, or developing outside airbags—none of these features offer ways to mitigate secondary impact that a pedestrian may be subject to.

No news yet as to whether this new patent will actually be featured in Google’s self-driving cars.